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Stephen king the Darkness Within

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.�

Table of Contents THE UNSEEN Early Life 4 Journey to Adulthood 5

IN THE SPOTLIGHT Finding Success 6 On Writing 7 King Creations 10-11

A DARK SHADOW Struggles With Alcoholism Finding Recovery 13

ENLIGHTENED Family is King




the cover

03 Stephen King:

A Horror Mastermind

THE UNSEEN Early Life When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of the elderly couple. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

“ My childhood was pretty ordinary, except from a very early age I wanted to be scared. I just did.”

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level.

Journey to Adulthood He and Tabitha Spruce married in January of 1971. He met Tabitha in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine at Orono, where they both worked as students. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

05 KING in 1952, 3 years after his father walked out on his family.

Stephen King:

A Horror Mastermind

IN THE SPOTLIGHT Finding Successs Every scrap of free time had to be put to good use. During one particularly frenzied period, King bashed out The Running Man in a week. A week! "February vacation week. I was white hot, I was burning. That was quite a week, because Tabby was trying to get back and forth to Dunkin' Donuts and I had the kids. I wrote when they napped or I would stick them in front of the TV. Joe was in a playpen. It seemed like it snowed the whole week, and I wrote the book. Couldn't sell it."

“ Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”

In King's 1986 novel It, the characterStuttering Bill stands in for the author as a highly successful horror writer, who corrects journalists when they ask where he gets his ideas from. The better question, Bill says, is why do they come in that particular form? Why horror? King has always recoiled from glib readings of a childhood rift in his psyche: a father who left when King was an infant, never to return. But it was throu Everything changed with Carrie, the story of a telekinetic teenager and her sublime rage at her fundamentalist mother and bullying schoolmates. It was picked up in 1973 by Doubleday, for an advance of $2,500. That was enough for the Kings to buy a new car. A year later, when the paperback rights went out for auction, King expected to make something in the region of $60,000, half of which would go to his publisher. Since $30,000 was more than he earned in a year as a teacher, he planned to take a sabbatical and write two more books. "But the advance turned out to be $500,000.”

King, writing in his office.

On Writing There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It's tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don't think conceptually while I work on a first draft -- I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar. But there's one thing I'm sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this. How can a writer extend an appealing invitation -- one that's difficult, even, to refuse? We've all heard the advice writing teachers give: Open a book in the middle of a dramatic or compelling situation, because right away you engage the reader's interest. This is what we call a "hook," and it's true, to a point.

07 Stephen King:

A Horror Mastermind

“Monster and ghosts a They live and sometim

rs are real, are real too. inside us, mes they win.�



1982 1981

1979 1977


A selection of published novels from his first to his last.







11 Stephen King:

A Horror Mastermind

a dark shadow Struggles With Alcoholism It also captures the reality of a recovering alcoholic, a state with which King is intimately familiar. Danny turns his life around and starts going to AA meetings, where, King writes, he discovers that mem

"The hungover eye, had a weird ability to find the ugliest things in any given landscape." ories are the "real ghosts". It is a book as extravagantly inventive as any in King's pantheon, and a careful study of self-haunting: "You take yourself with you, wherever you go."“I don’t have anything as dramatic. Of course, in a novel, you’re looking for something that’s really harsh. Harshly lit. For me, when I look back, the thing that I remember is being at one of my son’s Little League games with a can of beer in a paper bag, and the coach coming over to me and saying, ‘If that’s an alcoholic beverage, you’re going to have to leave.’ That was where I said to myself, ‘That’s something I’ll never be able to tell anybody else. I’ll keep that one to myself.’ I drew on that memory.”

Stephen King in 1967

Finding Recovery King has been sober for decades, ever since his family staged an intervention in the late 1980s. If he hesitated to write in this much depth about AA, it was only because he wanted to get it right. "The only thing is to write the truth. To write what you know about any particular situation. And I never say to anybody, 'This is all from my experience in AA,' because you don't say that." It was King's 36-year-old son, Owen, who, after reading the first draft of Doctor Sleep, told him there was something missing. "He said that the scene he remembered best from The Shining was the one where Jack Torrance and his friend are out drunk one night and they hit a bicycle and think they've killed a kid. And they say, 'That's the end; we're not going to drink any more.' And Owen said, 'There's no scene that's comparable to that in Doctor Sleep. You ought to see Dan at his worst.' And, as usual, Owen was right."

13 Stephen King:

A Horror Mastermind

King family in July, 3013 at Stephen’s Maine residence.

“ Alone. Yes, that's the key word. Murder doesn't hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.”

enlightened Family is King Life in Maine, where Stephen King has spent most of his adult years, requires long drives down country roads, time that King, whose mind is restless, likes to fill by listening to books on tape. In the ’80s, however, he sometimes could not find the books he wanted on tape — or maybe he just did not bother. He had three children: Naomi, Joe and Owen. They could read, couldn’t they? All King had to do was press record. Which is how his school-age children came to furnish their father, over the years, with a small library’s worth of books on tape. On a drizzly morning in July, King, his wife and their children gathered in Maine for a reunion the week of the Fourth and compared notes on what constituted chores in the King household. As they talked, they

were crowded around a rather small kitchen table in a lakeside guesthouse, where King’s 41-year-old son, Joe Hill, was staying, a short drive from the family’s summer home. “I read you that stupid book, that Dean Koontz book,” said Owen King, who is 36 and the youngest of the three children. “Watch it!” interrupted his father, but Owen, seated across the table from his father, kept going: “The one where the dog is a genius, and he talks to him by pointing at Scrabble pieces with his nose.” “Hey, I liked that book,” Joe said. “I loved that book,” their father said.

15 Stephen King:

A Horror Mastermind

Stephen King Biography  
Stephen King Biography